Education & Family

A generation of children 'turn their backs on sport'

girls on bikes
Image caption The poll of 1,500 children found one in ten cannot ride a bike

A generation of British children are turning their backs on sport and physical activity, a survey suggests.

The poll for British Triathlon and Tata Steel suggests 10% cannot ride a bike and 15% cannot swim.

The survey of 1,500 children aged six to 15 found almost a quarter (22%) had never run a distance of 400 metres.

A third of the children questioned said they did not own a bike, while three quarters (77%) had a games console and 68% had a mobile phone of their own.

In the week before the poll was conducted in March, just 46% had ridden their bikes and 34% had swam the length of a pool, but 73% had played a video game.

And 15% of the children said they had never played sport with their parents.

Mini-triathlons

The survey was carried out to launch this year's Tata Kids of Steel triathlon series.

The scheme, which launched in 2007, gives children the chance to compete in mini-triathlons for free - with all the relevant equipment provided.

Children swim between 40m (44yds) and 60m (66yds), cycle between 800m (875yds) and 1,200m (1,312yds) and run for 400m (440yds).

The initiative is visiting 18 UK destinations during the summer, including steel regions such as Scunthorpe, Corby, Teesside, Rotherham, Swansea and Shotton in North Wales, and some 14,000 children are expected to take part.

British Triathlon chief executive Zara Hyde Peters said: "We're passionate about creating opportunities for young people to discover how much fun the triathlon challenge is.

"It's one of the fastest growing, dynamic and modern sports around and, with the Olympics just around the corner, there's no better time to be inspiring youth participation in our sport."

Karl Kohler, chief executive of Tata Steel in Europe, said: "As the corporate partner of British Triathlon, we're committed to reviving an interest in playing sport within local communities.

"So to be giving 14,000 children a first-hand experience of how accessible and fun triathlon can be is a very exciting prospect."

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